2 December 2014

Greens are wholly and enthusiastically in favour of increased rail capacity and sustainable improvements in the economy, provided they are at minimum harm to the planet, people, landscapes and wildlife. A sustainable economy requires the reduction - leading to the elimination - of fossil fuel use, including diesel motive power, as soon as possible. Train power needs to be electricity from both central and decentralised renewable energy sources. 

The Green Party of England & Wales is opposed in principle to HS2, a position supported by regional and local Green parties in the areas that would be affected by its construction. The Party argues that there are viable and cost effective alternatives that will have a quicker and greater benefit. Most conservation organisations eg CPRE, FoE, RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, and others either oppose or have strong reservations about HS2. The WT’s recently reported that 100 valuable wildlife sites would be lost or damaged.

We do welcome the Governments commitment to spend £32 Billion on the rail network over the next five years.  However we say that any money for HS2 must be added to this  budget and in addition, to protect our investment, the network must be brought back in to public ownership as the franchises expire.

 Kat Boettge, the East Midlands Green Party coordinator and candidate for parliament in 2015, says

  “There is an opportunity to develop a UK manufacturing base for a rail revival, using standardised rolling stock. Having  HS systems that are not compatible with the main national network, as the Government is planning is unbelievably short sighted and means that rolling stock orders will go overseas, so abandoning UK train-makers in the Midlands and the North East.”


Great CentralBetter alternatives to HS2  include: nationwide rail improvements and new build, and super-fast broadband for business connectivity to reduce the need for travel. New links between Midlands and Northern cities; Reopening former Great Central from London to Leicester; electrified branch lines so they don’t become ‘diesel islands’; create a better Humberside-Leeds-Manchester-Liverpool rail network.

The net effect would be an early and long term boost to the economy; this investment could be a boost to British manufacture of rolling stock and related equipment so creating secure jobs.  It would lead to a reduction in road and air traffic, have less impact on landscape, homes and wildlife, a lower carbon footprint, and greater safety. This would be Green investment.


A rail revival should be part of a total revival of regional economies backed by European Regional funding that has been blocked by Euro-sceptic Tories.  But as it is, HS2 will add to already excessive and unsustainable growth in the south east. It’s a London-centred vanity project   Not a legacy our children would approve of.  HS2 is going nowhere, the case against it is unanswerable: 

  • With the Coalitions announcement of its £32 Billion rail investment it’s unclear where the HS2 £50bn will come from. Current expenditure is all on lawyers and consultants, real investment is many years away.
  • Labour in supporting HS2 proposes a capped budget. It’s obvious that capping reduces the measures to reduce harm, so it will be left to cash strapped local councils to reduce harmful effects, or people will simply have to put up with the effects and gain no benefit.
  • Speeds are excessive for relatively short journeys. Door to door times are what matters and these could even be longer, because of fewer stations.
  • Too much carbon. The need for tunnels and extravagant structures will load capital costs and carbon emissions during construction, high speeds demand more energy therefore higher running costs and emissions.
  • Not wanted by businesspersons A key argument, since this is the target group, they want an improved broadband super-highway with national cover and work on-train, so very high speed is a low priority
  • Lack of access  There are too few stations, and badly located for the cities and main towns. Also those stops will generate new car traffic, so will make existing problems worse
  • Too much damage to wildlife The Wildlife Trusts have identified destruction or damage to over 100 sites. The concept of ‘site replacement’ is widely unpopular and not likely to come to pass.  
  • Very intrusive  CPRE and neighbourhoods affected will oppose many of the structures on grounds of landscape harm and noise
  • Unsafe, how to handle emergencies on a track not compatible with the UK network is unknown.  
  • Frequency, number of passengers, cost per passenger at this time is unknown. To start spending on the project, as this Government is doing, with out this information is irresponsible.
  • IT’S NOT DEMOCRATIC  This is a project that at worst could be approved by a small majority of MPs who have the votes of a minority of the total electorate. The 18 councils on route opposed (51M). Some Tories voted against on 28th April 2014, and many more would have done if Labour had opposed the enabling Bill.

As Kat concludes:  'HS2 is a vanity, if not fantasy, project that Government seems to think will 'kick start' the economy for 2015. It serves the big [Tory sponsoring] construction companies and consultancies, whose share value will climb on the back of the project. It does not serve our interests, the people who in the end will have to pay for it and its failure.  Only Green investment in an integrated and publicly owned transport system will serve the common good.'

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